Today we welcome Nicholas Conley on the blog. He’s 23, an author, and tells me that he “was writing before I could even ride a bicycle.”He says that writing is his “lifelong obsession,” and for that fact alone I know many of will be able to relate to him.
Enjoy this interview.
Tell us about your latest book. What do you hope readers take away from it?
The Cage Legacy is the story of 17-year-old Ethan Cage, who at a young age discovers that his kindhearted father is actually a serial killer nicknamed “The Mutilator.”
For me, writing The Cage Legacy was an incredibly cathartic experience. I’ve been working on this novel since I was a teenager, and it was through writing Ethan’s journey that I was finally able to come to terms with the struggles I went through in my adolescence. The Cage Legacy is about many things, but perhaps the story’s most important theme is that of free will. It’s a term we mention so much that we forget its meaning, but think about it – free will. Does a human being ever truly have free will, or does that person’s past permanently decide the course of his or her life?
That’s the question that Ethan Cage is forced to face head-on. I mean, look – this kid, he’s the son of a serial killer, a serial killer who just happened to be an exceptionally good dad. That messes with a kid’s head, big time. That also raises a lot of very, very unnerving questions about his psychological health, questions that he’s avoided his whole life. But eventually, Ethan has to confront these issues. Can he ever be his own man? Or is he destined to forever live in the shadow of his father’s violence?
Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?
I’m currently about halfway through my fourth edit on my next novel. I’ve been working on this one since before The Cage Legacy was published, and I can’t wait to get it out there. It’s definitely a very different piece, but it does explore my familiar themes of identity, free will, human suffering and a microscopic focus on the psychological condition of the protagonist.
Oh come on, that’s like picking a favorite song! Okay, okay. Stephen King is an obvious one, of course. George Orwell. Kurt Vonnegut. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Richard Matheson. David Foster Wallace. Franz Kafka. Dostoevsky. H.P. Lovecraft. Mark Z. Danielewski. Harlan Ellison. C.S. Lewis. Cormac McCarthy. William Gibson.
Book you’re currently reading?
What is one thing that frustrates you about being a writer?
Writing is an utterly exhausting, often thankless task. It’s basically the equivalent of having three tons of homework, every day, for the rest of your life—and never finishing it, not quite.
But it’s worth it. As frustrating as it often is—and always will be—I absolutely love writing, more than anything else in the world. Writing is my identity. It’s who I am, and who I always will be.
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not?
Writer’s block is something we all suffer from, occasionally—but I truly believe that the block is only as strong as one makes it out to be. The more one allows oneself to struggle with writer’s block, the longer that one stares hopelessly at the blank page, the more menacing that block becomes.
My advice? When writer’s block is standing in your path, write anyway. Never hesitate. Never stop writing. Don’t worry if it’s crap; you can always delete the bad parts later. You can always edit. But as long as you keep writing, constantly, the block will never stop you.
What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?
A very difficult question; my answer changes every day. For the moment, I’m going to say Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Such an incredibly moving, utterly brilliant novel.
Where can we learn more about you?
If you really want to know me, of course, the best place is through my writing itself – especially my longer works.